10 USC 2771 - Final settlement of accounts: deceased members

(a) In the settlement of the accounts of a deceased member of the armed forces, an amount due from the armed force of which he was a member shall be paid to the person highest on the following list living on the date of death:
(1) Beneficiary designated by him in writing to receive such an amount, if the designation is received, before the deceased members death, at the place named in regulations to be prescribed by the Secretary concerned.
(2) Surviving spouse.
(3) Children and their descendants, by representation.

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(4) Father and mother in equal parts or, if either is dead, the survivor.
(5) Legal representative.
(6) Person entitled under the law of the domicile of the deceased member.
(b) Designations and changes of designation of beneficiaries under subsection (a)(1) are subject to regulations to be prescribed by the Secretary concerned. So far as practicable, these regulations shall be uniform for the uniformed services.
(c) Payments under subsection (a) shall be made by the Secretary of Defense.
(d) A payment under this section bars recovery by any other person of the amount paid.